Are You Afraid To Feel? You Might Be A HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)
Last week, I went to my second funeral in as many months.
I didn’t really know the newly departed and had only a few interactions with him. His death, as any, was sad. I hadn’t expected to feel much since I didn’t really know him. I was just there to support my loved ones.
As an HSP, I have gathered many coping mechanisms throughout my life. My go-to ritual when things get too much is to try and cut emotion off and not feel it.
Here though, on this day, inside this church, my years of HSP coping mechanisms were no match for what was before me. As soon as I stepped inside the area of ceremony, I was hit with such a tidal wave of emotion it nearly incapacitated me.
I was immediately embarrassed at the emotion that took over because I was so obviously affected. My lips and chin were quivering, my eyes welled up with tears that ran down my face, my body shook from desperately trying to hold back the emotion that was trying to come through.
All for someone I hardly knew.
As soon as I saw the first picture of the newly deceased, I was done. He was with his children, grandchildren, and dog. That picture sent me feeling, hearing, and sensing everything they did on that beautiful day. I turned to look at the attendees, only to feel every sadness they were feeling at that mournful time.
A funeral can be an emotionally overwhelming experience for anyone, but for the HSP, it’s a tsunami of sensory activity.
Such is the life of an HSP.
As an experienced highly sensitive person, I have learned a lot of self-maintenance tricks and feel like I have tried them all. But as I said—during this funeral, none of my ‘HSP Self Care” mechanisms worked. Not one.
On this day, I felt and I sensed to the very core of my being.
They played Taps at the end of this moving funeral with the full ceremonial guard present. I don’t think I have to tell you what kind of emotion came through; you get the picture.
As a matter of fact, I bet you can feel the picture, can’t you?
My second bet is that the minute the emotion came, you squelched it and pushed it back down.
For people so prone to feeling, some HSP’s can be the most unfeeling people you know.
Well, at least that is what they show you anyway.
What is going on inside is entirely different. It’s out of necessity of course. It’s protection.
Many sensitives don’t identify themselves with the HSP title. They think, “That can’t possibly be me. I don’t cry at the drop of the hat; I don’t over feel things. That is for the weak. I simply don’t have time for that. My life is busy!”
HSPs are highly intelligent and adaptable. They can convince themselves and anyone of anything, including the fact that they don’t feel. Because deep down, emotion is a fear that lurks around every corner just waiting to bombard the unsuspecting HSP.
This was me my whole life.
My own parents often described me as aloof. They often told me they didn’t understand me. They often told me what fellow HSP, Alanis Morisette’s parents told her (see sensitive the movie), that they, ”just didn’t know what to do with me.”
Either I seemed to be feeling things too deeply or not at all. Confusing for any parent but even more confusing for the HSP herself.
For some HSPs, learning to feel and being ok with it is like learning to fly. It’s hard work, disorienting, overwhelming, and baffling. It is contrary to everything we are taught.
Our whole lives we are taught to behave and feel only to a certain degree that is considered “normal.” But the HSP doesn’t quite fit into that ”normal.” They are truly wired differently. They are wired to feel, and with purpose.
Because of this, HSPs can find themselves trying to unlearn everything they were taught by well-meaning people who told them they were “too sensitive,” then trying to relearn and find their own feeling map.
Allowing myself to feel is the hardest part of being an HSP because I know what comes with it and I know what it demands. But I have learned enough to know that not doing that is denying who I really am.
I feel powerfully. I have intense emotion. I have to constantly remind myself that sitting and being with that and allowing that is all ok.
I just wanted to shout out all of you non-feeling HSPs out there.
If you think and label yourself a non-feeler, check in with yourself - you just may be a highly sensitive person in disguise.